There’s no question that death is a part of life. One of the things that allow us to survive as people is the fact that we’re not wired to contemplate death and what comes next, on a minute to minute basis. If we did, we’d accomplish nothing in life as we’d succumb to the feeling that there’s no point. Considering everything happening in the world right now, fate occasionally reminds us that the typical come and go of life is still ongoing; including the passing of lives. I found out yesterday that my Uncle Richard passed away from cancer.
My mother was born as the second of seven children. Richard was not the oldest; in fact, he was among the youngest. Father, grandfather and husband, he was diagnosed with cancer quite some time ago. In recent decades, cancer has practically become the new “natural death,” with so many people developing one type or another. Most members of my family on my mother’s side have overcome cancer at some point, including my grandfather with prostate cancer, my mother with skin cancer and her older sibling who survived what was referred to as terminal.
You could say that the genes on my mother’s side seem to have a way of kicking cancer’s ass. That’s why it came as a surprise when my mother recently told me that Richard was on the final leg of his journey in this life, succumbing to the ravages that cancer brings. It came as a surprise for me since, last I’d heard, he was in remission and was overcoming it. Some weeks had passed before my mother phoned me yesterday afternoon to deliver the bad news. With both of my grandparents already gone, my mother is the de facto matriarch and was busy contacting all the members of the family. I don’t envy her that responsibility.
Richard’s passing has brought a strange shift in dynamic in the family. I’ve recognized for years that I’ve reached a point in my existence where life has started taking away at LEAST as much as it has given. But Richard finds himself as the first one in my family of his generation to pass; a sobering reminder that they’ve potentially reached the point in life where death has become an inevitable consideration. Don’t get me wrong; adults in general have an awareness of death and acknowledge its existence and possibility. But my mother and her siblings are now aware that death has touched them. And as the old saying suggests, the only thing one can’t avoid in life are taxes and death.
Considered to have been a bit of a rebel within the family, he’s always had a soft spot for his family and cared for all of us. I’ve tried my best since yesterday to try and find a photograph of him. No luck. Oh, I’m sure I have a photo of him in a dusty album in my barrack boxes. But nothing in recent years. This is a wake up call for me. Especially since I’ve lived in Saskatchewan for the past fifteen years and he lived in Alberta. We totally would have been in a position to see each other more. Although I make my best to live life without regrets, I can say with firm honesty that realizing I’ll never have the opportunity or took it when I had the chance, is one of them.
Hug your family close and appreciate the time you have with them. Life is short and there’s no guarantee that you’ll know them in the next life. With all the chaos currently happening in the world, more people are losing loved ones than should be. Rest in peace, Uncle Richard. I’ve known pain and sickness all my life but I’m sure yours was worse. Peace and rest are yours, now. I’m sure my brother will greet you at the door. ❤️🙏☯️